My 20th birthday is today (yahoo!). Do I feel older and wiser knowing I’m leaving my teenage years behind? Well, yes actually. I have done a lot of living and have experienced some pretty cool things in my time.
Here is what I’ve learned:
1. Find your confidence. I cannot express this enough. The only person who will never, ever leave you is you. You will always have yourself. Learn to love your flaws, cherish your perks and be comfortable in your own skin. You must first love yourself before you can love anyone else. No-one can truly love yourself until you first love you.
2. Smile. Seriously, just do it. Smiling is easy, its free. It makes you happy and it makes other people happy. Smiling is free, smiling easy. Smiling has the power to positively influence your mood.
3. Sometimes you have to say-goodbye to the negative people in your life. Its hard to find the courage to cut out someone who was once so close to you. But allowing yourself to walk away from a toxic relationship opens the door for a positive relationship.
4. Prioritize your family. Friends will come and go, but your family is forever. Skip the dinner with your friends for a dinner with your family. Your friends will still be there. Trust me when I say my mother is probably the only person in the world I can scream at when I’m frustrated and she will be there to dry my tears or take my shopping when I’m upset. Your parents want to be there for you, let them.
5. Being smart is okay. Being smart is cool. Being smart makes you beautiful. For so long I was embarrassed about my love for writing. Now I embrace my strengths.
6. Learn how to negotiate. You must not be afraid to ask for what you feel you deserve. My favorite class I have taken thus far in my college career is on the topic of negotiation. Though I am a communication major and not going into the sales world, I still negotiate on a daily basis. I negotiate with my teachers for extended deadlines or to increase my grade when I feel I deserve it. I negotiate with the sales clerks at department stores, my friends and family when making plans. I even negotiate within my public relations internship.
7. Its okay to miss class, but its even better to go. I for one do not have perfect attendance and I don’t think I ever will. But I do try my hardest to go to every class even when I really don’t want to. Acknowledge that attending class means you don’t have to put in the extra effort to learn the material on your own. Also, your teacher swill be more willing to help you when you’re stuck and negotiate on a grade.
8. Ask questions while taking a test. Why have I never done this until my second semester of my sophomore year in college? Let me know. Sometimes asking your professor to re-state a question is all you need to understand what they are asking. It doesn’t make you look “dumb” or “incompetent.” You’ll end up getting a better grade and we all know smart is beautiful.
9. Figure out your learning style and take classes tailored to that. One of the perks of going to a small school is the ability to ask your older classmates what a specific class is like. Things like the classroom structure, homework load and test/quizes are important to keep in mind. I acknowledge that I succeed in discussion based classes where participation is apart of my grade. I also prefer taking classes that are writing intensive and have minimum tests/quizzes. I write better than I test. Knowing this, I tailor my schedule each seamster to ensure I’m taking classes that fit my learning schedule. My GPA has never been higher.
10. Don’t be embarrassed, afraid or even ashamed of failing. It’s how you learn. If you repeat the mistake twice, then its a failure because you didn’t learn from the situation.
11. Not as many people notice the little things you think they do. It’s called the spotlight effect. You think everyone sees that zit on your face, but really everyone is so into their own business I can promise you they don’t. Be care free, be yourself. Take risks in your wardrobe and don’t think everyone will see that sauce stain from lunch.
12. Your older friends, siblings, parents and professors have a lot to teach you. Take the time to listen. You don’t know everything. You won’t know everything. But you can learn.
13. Dating is great and all, but its important to work on yourself first. Get your career in line, figure out who you are. Then allow yourself to get distracted with a significant other. Being single and successful is empowering.
14. The right guy will treat you with respect. Scratch that, the right friends will treat you with respect. They will initiate plans, build you up, treat you with kindness. They will never forget to wish you good luck before an important task or celebrate with you after receiving an internship/job offer. They will respect and understand your priorities and encourage you to reach your dreams.
15. Cherish your body. Fuel it with foods that are good for you. Drink lots of water, exercise regularly. And never pass up the opportunity to split a large fry.
16. Laugh. Laugh at yourself, your own jokes, your own mistakes. Laugh when it hurts, laugh until it hurts. Never take yourself too seriously.
17. Get your stuff together and your priorities in shape. No-one is going to find a job for you. No-one is going to ensure you graduate college. You are in charge of your own life and your own future. You get to decide so get your life in check now. Your future self will thank you.
18. Treat yourself every once in a while. Life is all about balance.
19. Sleep. Its important to treat your body with respect. Sleeping improves memory, mood and your overall well-being. Take a nap in-between classes, stay in on a Friday night. They saying is true, you never remember the nights you got plenty of sleep. But you will remember feeling sluggish and exhausted the days you don’t.
20. And lastly, love the weird things that make your heart so, so happy. Take pride is your hobby and passions. Not everyone will approve of the things you do, and thats okay. The only approval you need is your own and the only person who can decide your mood is you. Choose happiness.
Do more of what makes you happy.